You can go to any bookstore and find a multitude of “how to” books on just about every aspect of writing, from how to get the first word down to how to find an agent, from publishing your book to marketing. It’s all there in the tall dark bookshelves of your favorite bookstore. In fact, most bookstores have an entire section on writing (though, in the last few years, many bookstores have merged the writing section with reference). In any event, if you want to learn how to write, then go down to your favorite bookstore and find the book that suits your needs.
When you get to that little independent bookstore on the corner, I want to urge you to look for two of my favorite writing books: On Writing by Stephen King and Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury. Why? Because both are about the creative process and writing life with a whole lot of biography stirred in. Both of these books are both small. You can stick either of them in your handbag (if you’re male, you can put one in your overcoat pocket), and catch a word or two at lunchtime. You can take them everywhere with you.
On Writing is a memoir on Stephen King’s life as a writer. Part one is his C.V., or more properly his Curriculum Vitae, about how he obtained his writing experience and the writing jobs he has held over the years. Part two is about what it takes to be a writer, and includes the tools her utilizes every day. He does not paint a rosy picture of writing, but a constructs a realistic panorama.
Zen in the Art of Writing was first published back in 1973, and has been reprinted several times. This lovely little book contains ten of Bradbury’s straightforward, intense and colorful essays. Like King, he writes from a biographical point of view, utilizing his own experiences to illustrate the truth about the writing life.
While my bookshelves are packed with many writing books I have collected over the years, the two aforementioned books are always within reach for a quick read. In order to be a writer, you must write. It’s also important to be realistic about what the writing world is like. Many writers, including me, have not quit their day jobs. I know one author who has written six novels, most of them on the best selling list, and he still works part-time. I love to write, have profited a little bit, but I know I will be at my job for quite awhile.
As for my writing, I just finished chapter 24 and approximately 45,000 words, and believe I have about five or six chapters left to go. I am getting really excited about concluding draft two. Then I must face the hard work of editing, adding, and taking away. This stage will be more intensive as, after two drafts, I feel I have crafted a good story.
Happy writing all!